Providing straightforward information pertaining to drugs, drug use & drug policy. The Grey Pages promotes drug-related literacy and advocates a system of viable and tolerant drug policies. This is my personal collection of commentaries, essays, tid-bits, and other such writings on everything ranging from drug use, drug policy and drug-myths, to drug-science, addiction, human behavior, and the workings of the human brain. I started this blog with a particular focus on opioids, and over the past year have found my interest gravitate toward the intriguing, ever-changing world of designer intoxicants (i.e. "research chemicals" or "designer drugs").

Friday, February 10, 2012

Nature of the Prescription Drug Problem

Why examining its roots requires re-examining our approach to the "problem" itself:

(Key Search Terms: opiate, opioid, epidemic, overdose death, addiction, prescription drug abuse, supply, demand, pill mill, doctors, florida, pain patient, narcotic, prohibition, DEA, law enforcement)

"The constraints on the power of the federal government, as laid down in the Constitution, have been eroded by a monopolistic medical profession administering a system of prescription laws that have, in effect, removed most of the drugs people want from the free market." (Thomas Szaz)

When examining the factors underlying the so-called "opiate epidemic", we must reconsider the real source of the problem, and indeed, the so-called problem itself. The current trend of prescription opioid "abuse" is not a result of rogue clinics or the "aggressive" treatment of pain - The assumption is backwards. The entire "pill mill" phenomenon - exemplified by the current state of affairs throughout Florida - is but a symptom of a deeper underlying dilemna, one which thus far has gone largely unexamined, with catastrophic consequences.

These phenomena (i.e. pharmaceutical McCarthyism & the corruption of the medical profession) are responses to an insatiable appetite which we can no longer afford to ignore. It is intellectually dishonest to believe that the pain profession and the pharmaceutical industry has "created" addicts out of naive & vulnerable patients simply seeking meaningful treatment; while resisting the uncomfortable reality that there is, and always will be, a monstrous demand - both hedonistic & therapeutic - for pleasure producing narcotics and other psychoactive drugs, which exceeds the supply we currently offer.

The 98 year prohibition of nonmedical drug use has had many unintended consequences. One of which has been turning doctors into monopolists of the opioid trade - or more generally, the controlled substance trade. 

Currently, we have an enormous demand for narcotics not only from the sick or injured medical patient, but from millions of casual, habitual, or recreational drug users as well (many of whom, due to our drug control laws, have few other sources than a medical clinic). The inevitable result; a flooding of doctors offices with patients whom practitioners should not even have to be dealing with, along with the unnecessary liability that accompanies mass prescribing. Meanwhile, law enforcement is breathing down the necks of practitioners, who are now tasked with policing their patients - never mind the fact that humanely treating pain and effectively policing patients are two irreconcilable practices; impossible to achieve without compromising one or the other - i.e. without either letting a number of "seekers" slip through the cracks, or compromising patient care. 

Narcotic addiction is not a matter to be trivialized, and my deepest sympathies goes to all those whom have been affected by a loved one or friend with a self-destructive habit. However, in responding to the problem of prescription drug addiction, particularly in the state of florida; when we allow raw emotions and mindless panic to dictate our understanding of, and respone to, such a complex social issue, the response will never be rational or effective - and in the case of clinical practice and drug use,  has brought unintended consequences which deeply affect many individuals - including needy patients and well-intentioned physicians. In fact, more than just affecting individuals adversely, the situation, which under different cultural circumstances might manifest otherwise mildly, has been made far worse.

To put it simply, drug addiction and drug related deaths are senseless and tragic, but remain one of many inevitable occurences in a free society. All efforts should be put into educating individuals regarding drugs and drug use - learning to respect drugs and use them competently - rather than irrationally & hopelessly pursuing a puritan "drug-free" utopia, while trampling individual freedom and ruining lives in the process. The minimization of drug related harm can be accomplished more effectively through policies which emphasize individual freedom, consumer education, market freedom and honesty, and personal responsibility.

The "abuse" of prescription drugs is not the problem; and the easy availability of these drugs through unethical doctors is not the problem; as bizarre as it may seem to the indoctrinated mind, it is the fact that the drug user is unable to "medicate" without the approval of a doctor, along with the cultural & market conditions inherent with this system, that is the problem.

If individuals were left free to palliate their own ailments and fulfill their own hedonistic desires, unscrupulous doctors would quickly be driven out of business, while real doctors could be left to deal with critical ailments and save lives by proactive means. There would be few cases of the naive and vulnerable patient being misled by the authority of a doctor in regard to the true nature of opioids and other addictive drugs; while the individual who does medicate using such drugs does so on his own informed volition. In time, a majority of our current "prescription drug problem" would be left to correct itself.

1 comment:

  1. Derek, Holy Shit. Thank you Thank you. You know that little itch, that tug that pull that constantly grew an arm of its own, grew out of your Gut, and would grab your face and smash it into the mass of confusedly suffering humanity? *

    Well........never mind, nix that approach.

    Ok that was presuming youve been living with the same sort of sense of duty pervading the expanding scope and depth of understanding as I have.

    Maybe you just see the mass of confusedly suffering humanity and this is a natural extension of your skills for you, but isn't as passionate as I may be stricken with.

    Either way dude, I am not gonna be able to do myself a suitably impressive intro, (which I would want to do as I definitely want you to be a part of my ideo-network.), but I can get out of my own way and say friggin well done, I mean well well well done , thank you and well done.

    I am going to be absorbing this and that, of course all "wrong" , but as us Grey Hatters know, right and wrong are children's distractions which have run us into some trouble. I say absorbing because too much background would be intrusive and off putting for sure. But I've never seen such a masterful and consciously aware of its alternative nature yet steadfastly sure that this isn't just an alternative to the usual way , it is the culture saving emergency alternative to the dead end pain causing beying abbatoir

    I would love to know details of your life and so on and so forth but I will have to just let a natural Acquaintance develop, and try not to spoil it all right here with all this hooopla.

    Man this is not the comment I wanted to leave but it came over me in a flood , so I didn't expect it to be perfect.

    If there is anything that I could align myself with it is this.

    Ideological Responsibility.

    We cannot have charismatics creating these ideologies that free float right past gurus casket and into dogmatization.

    We need to understand that Ideas have a nature all their own that we barely understand: we need to concede that our language is a horribly handicapped device that we have for too too long been appallingly passive in the management of.

    Ideas need to be engineered, possibly with expiration dates for certain types of ideas or for ideas connected to one individual. .

    And not expiration dates but maybe we can build in a review process that gets triggered if xyz.



    I am enthused to see you are even younger than me, quite certain you have educated yourself more or less , and generally curious as to how you developed the voice that you speak your message through. There are many unique and important things that seem to be emerging from the workshop of your head: I trust you see know and acknowledge your skill and talent and I sort of assume all this flows from the place of duty that I first supposed .

    Either way and no matter what , thank you and ....

    Don't know what else to say, anything I've said understates it yet the way I've gone about this may seem unreal or sycophantic (no but that doesn't fit) or too much.

    By all means continue to do this in as many areas as you can and for friends who may be as well equipped as you to do this, please, start your revolution , I can see you starting it, its about time, this place needs serious help.